Figuring Out Whether a Firm Genuinely Cares About Its Attorneys
How many of you feel that your firm genuinely cares about you?
For those of you reading who are employers of other attorneys — how do you think your team would answer that question if you were not around?
Working for a firm that supports you is vital to your growth and success as an individual attorney. Which is why if your answer to the first question is not a “yes” — you should position yourself with a firm where it is.
When attorneys — especially millennial attorneys — feel supported by their firms, their happiness on the job soars — and so does firm success. Building a healthy relationship involves the efforts of both parties — firm and attorney — and the result will improve the quality of policies, feedback and firm culture.
Here are the steps you should take as an attorney to make sure you are doing your part in building a positive relationship with your firm.
Learn when to speak up.
You know you have to communicate clearly — but to be an effective communicator at your firm, you need to know whether it is timely for you to raise or address a certain matter. Regardless of a partner or senior attorney’s communication style, speaking up on timely matters before consequences are out of your control builds trust and establishes healthy communication. Take the time to notice how the stakeholders move through the business day, the business week, and then each month. When do they prefer to communicate, and how? When are they more — or less — receptive? Observe the behavior of your colleagues. Do they avoid a certain partner before the partner drinks their morning cup of coffee? Or do they feel comfortable just showing up at the door?
Learn and respect their communication style.
Each personality will have a different style, with its own strengths and weaknesses. Consider:
Whether the partner you want to speak with tends to be more autocratic, or participatory. Participatory leaning personalities value insight and input; autocratic leaning personalities tend not to welcome input or challenges. If you need an immediate response to a matter, knowing that you are reaching out to a more autocratic communicator may get you to where you need to go, faster. On the other hand, if you want to brainstorm a new approach, knowledge that someone is more participatory means you might have more opportunities to participate in the project.
Get to know former attorneys of the firm.
Do they speak about the firm and its culture fondly, or bitterly? Do they feel that the firm valued them as an attorney (and if not — what types of attorneys do they feel the firm values?)? Are you there to get the job done and go home? Do they receive positive feedback and opportunities to advance, or do they feel invisible?
They saying goes that employees do not quit “bad jobs” — they quit “bad bosses.” Lawyers who believe their firms care for them perform better. Moving up the legal career ladder requires a lawyer to play the relationship game, and professional relationships are built on trust and commitment.
As a legal recruiter, I know how taxing it is when you are working for a firm that does not have your back. We are here to make sure you find the right firm that wants to invest in your success.